July 24, 2013

Skadi: The Norse Goddess of Winter

Posted in Goddess Project, Goddess Things tagged , , , , , , at 10:02 pm by Babs

Skadi [Kaw-dee] is also known as Skade, Skadhi or Skathi.  She is a giantess, also called the “snow-shoe goddess”, and the embodiment of winter.  She is the wife of the god Njord.  When her father Thiazi was slain by the gods, Skadi wanted to take revenge.  The gods thought it wiser to reconcile and offered her a marriage with one of them.  She was free to marry and god, but while she made her choice she was only allowed to see the feet of the potential candidates.  She noticed a very elegant pair and, convinced that their owner was the fair god Balder, she chose them.  Unfortunately for her, those feet belonged to the older god Njord.

Skadi (sometimes spelled Skathi – the name of one of Saturn’s moons) appears to be the most independent of the Norse Goddesses.  She is a giantess whose father Thiazi was killed for stealing the Goddess Idun (and therefore the God’s apples of immortality).  Her recompense was to choose a God to be her husband, but she could only judge them by their feet, the rest of their bodies being hidden.  She chose the most lovely pair, thinking that they belonged to the beautiful and good Balder, but instead got Njord, the Vanir sea-god.

Well, they tried living together, but Skadi wanted to live in her father’s hall, Thrymheim, and Njord wanted to live in Noatun, his seaside hall.  They tried to compromise by switching between halls every nine days, but it didn’t work out, and they finally got a divorce.  Rumor has it that Skadi then got together with Ullr, the God of winter and archery (among other things).

Skadi is called a “snowshoe Goddess” but scholars argue over whether these were actually snowshoes as we know them, or if they were instead skis.  I’d prefer to think she was a snowshoe Goddess.  She is also the Goddess of winter, but no one seems to know why.

To me, Skadi is a tall and strong with white-blonde hair (like Sunna) but with pale, icy-blue eyes and pale skin.  She wears her long hair in a thick braid and carries with her always a staff/ spear (I’m not sure which).  She may or may not have wolf/ dog friends.  I’m not sure which because wolves have a bad rap in Norse mythology (see Fenrir, Skoll, and Hati), but the Norwegian Spitz, for example, resembles a wolf/ husky type dog.  At any rate, she probably has some sort of animal companion who helps her hunt, maybe even a snowy owl.

Thrymheim, Skadi’s father’s home, is a big granite thing cut into the face of a cliff.  It is, after all, a giant’s dwelling.  Perhaps due to her upbringing, Skadi is definitely a Goddess of the mountains and perhaps her favorite place is in the boreal forest near the treeline.

Even though she is a winter Goddess she does not appear to spend a great deal of time on the tundra and/or with reindeer.  That is too much of a Saami domain.  She is said to affect the winter weather and like many winter Gods she has something of a short tempter.  However, I don’t think she tends to hold a grudge.  She did give up her revenge against her father’s killer for the prospect of love and marriage.  For some reason she is also associated with hunting which is probably why she was such a good match for Ullr.  This means she takes away but can also give and/or spare life.  She is likely more concerned with keeping the balance than wreaking havoc even when she is in a less than cheerful mood.

Herstory: Skadi

In Norse mythology, Skadi is the daughter of the giant Thiazi.  It is said that Thiazi kidnapped the youthful Goddess Idun and while the God Aesir came to rescue her, he killed Thiazi.  Skadi wanted revenge for the death of her father.  When she found Aesir they agreed she would not kill him if one of the gods could make her laugh and that she could pick a god to marry.  The first condition was met when trickster Loki made her laugh.  To meet the second condition she was only allowed to look at the god’s feet to pick her partner.  She was secretly in love with Balder as he was the most handsome god of them all, so she went for the cleanest and best looking feet but was disappointed to find they were not Balder’s.  Instead she had picked the Sea God Njord and not long after, married him.  Their marriage was difficult and after a while they separated because he loved to leve near the sea whereas she loved the mountains.  Later in life she remarried but there are conflicting stories of who she married; Ullr, the God of Skis or Odin, the god of War and Death.  Skadi ruled over mountains, wilderness, winter, revenge, knowledge, damage, justice and independence.

When do you call upon Skadi?  Call upon her when you need help moving from the dark into the light.

She is often depicted hunting while on skis/ snowshoes or on a snow-capped mountain.

Skadi is a huntress, a dark magician and in some stories she is depicted as a troll woman but Skadi is not an evil Goddess.  She symbolizes the many dark times that we all go through.

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